Why you should be nuts about nuts

So here’s the lowdown on nuts:

they provide energy. they provide the most calories in proportion to weight. Do not let the high amounts of calories or fats put you off though. as long as you stick to the recommended serving sizes, nuts can be part of a completely healthy diet. plus, the benefits of consuming nuts far outweighs the downsides.

they provide “good” fats. about half of their weight is made up of liquid fat (oil) which is very rich in mono and polyunsaturated fatty acids (which you may recall from my post about fats here). Walnuts are particularly rich in linolenic acid, a precursor of the omega 3 fatty acids. As a result, nuts reduce LDL cholesterol (“bad” cholesterol), increase HDL cholesterol (“good” cholesterol), and protect against arteriosclerosis.

they provide protein. nuts contain high amounts of protein and follow close behind legumes in terms of protein content. Their protein content is actually greater than meat, fish, eggs, and grains. Nuts almost form a complete protein, only lacking in amino acids lysine and methionine (you may recall these from my post about protein here). These amino acids can be supplemented by consuming nuts with legumes (which are rich in lysine) and grains (which are rich in methionine) as well as milk.

they provide minerals. the almond is the nut richest in calcium. pistachios and peanuts provide the most iron. sesame and sunflower seeds have even more iron than nuts. and both seeds and nuts contain large amounts of magnesium and phosphorus. (Note: I have said this in previous posts. At some point I will make a post about vitamins and minerals. Just bear with me)

they provide vitamins: nuts are a good source of vitamins b1, b2, b6, vitamin e, pantothenic acid, and folates. however, about 75% of vitamin b1 is destroyed in the roasting process. nuts are also a good source of choline, a vitamin factor that forms part of lecithin, and improves liver function.

they also provide trace elements. they are very high in zinc, manganese, copper, and selenium. You may recall from my post about antioxidants and free radicals, both selenium and manganese are antioxidants. More on that here.

they provide phytochemicals such as:

– ellagic acid, flavonoids, and phenolic compounds all of which are potent antioxidants

– phytosterols: substances similar to cholesterol but of vegetable origin, that block the absorption of cholesterol in the intestine

– isoflavons: similar to those contained in soy, but in lower proportions. They protect against arteriosclerosis, osteoporosis, and cancer.

What nuts do not contain:

– provitamin A

– vitamin C

Fresh fruits and vegetables compensate for these vitamin deficiencies.

Comparison of nuts (100 g):

– Almonds: 586 calories, 11.8 g carbs, 52.5 g fats, 20.4 g protein, 20.3 mg vitamin e, 247 mg calcium, 3.63 mg iron, 6.7 g fiber

– Hazelnuts: 632 calories, 9.2 g carbs, 62.6 g fats, 13 g protein, 23.9 mg vitamin e, 188 mg calcium, 3.27 mg iron, 6.1 g fiber

– Peanuts: 567 calories, 7.64 g carbs, 49.2 g fats, 25.8 g protein, 9.13 mg vitamin e, 92 mg calcium, 4.58 mg iron, 8.5 g fiber

– Walnuts: 642 calories, 13.5 g carbs, 61.9 g fats, 14.3 g protein, 2.62 mg vitamin e, 94 mg calcium, 2.44 mg iron, 4.8 g fiber


3 thoughts on “Why you should be nuts about nuts

  1. Pingback: Straw-raspberry rhubarb crumble | f00dventures

  2. Pingback: Chocolate chip granola bites « f00dventures

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